Posted by: Waheeda Harris | June 13, 2012

The spice lesson

For a child who always had a wide variety of spices in her diet, as an adult its been a great benefit from travel to learn more about those precious flavours.

In Grenada, an island that can grow a wide variety of spices, its nutmeg that is its pride.

Who knew that this small brown seed of the nutmeg tree would be such a tasty addition to so many recipes?

Visiting Doulgaston Estate spice boucan, I got up close and personal with nutmeg – seeing that its concealed within a couple of layers. The outer layer is a cream-coloured pod, which splits when the inner seed is ready to be harvested, revealing a lacy red layer (mace) and the inner brown seed (nutmeg).

I thought about those jars of ground nutmeg sold everyday in grocery stores around the world – where many people had never seen the original seed or seen the seed on the tree.

Nutmeg is very fragrant, and like many spices, when its fresh its even stronger. With the extreme heat and humidity, nutmeg’s scent had permeated everything I wore, and made me thankfully pleasantly scented.

But what kept creeping into my mind – who figured out that the inner brown seed was worth the wait? Since the outer pod is inedible, why pay attention to a brown seed that has to be grated to see its benefit? Who made the leap to combine nutmeg with other spices to create the tantalizing dishes that permeate the cuisine of the South Pacific, Asia and India?

That’s my curious mind wanting to know – and hopefully travel will bring me the answer.

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